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Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

Written by
Will Allen
Co-Founder MyYogaTeacher

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What is Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

Chakrasana.jpg

Chakrasana, also known as Full-Wheel Pose or Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), is a back-bending pose that tones the thighs, belly, and arms while engaging the entire body. This unique position and movement relaxes the body’s energy, and increases your level of consciousness. 


It requires a lot of strength in the arms, lower back, neck, shoulders, chest, legs, and feet to get into this posture. So, we’ve designed this detailed guide to help you start your Wheel Pose practice. 

Overview

Chakrasana is derived from the Sanskrit terms Chakra, meaning "Wheel," and Asana, meaning "Posture" or "Seat.” 


Urdhva Dhanurasana is also derived from the Sanskrit words Urdhva, which means Upwards, and Dhanura, which means bow (for shooting arrows). This pose is mentioned in the 19th century Sritattvanidhi (Karnataka language book showing divine figures in South India) as Paryaksana or Couch Pose. 


Sanskrit Name: चक्रासन                            Pronunciation: CHAAH-kraa-SUN-ah


Pose Type: Backbend, Chest Opener      Also known as: Wheel Pose or Upwards Facing Bow


Strengthens: Back, Diaphragm, Arms, Spine, Glutes, and Abdomen  


Stretches: Abdomen, Chest, Throat, Neck, and Entire Back


Health Benefits of Chakrasana 

  • Improves mental health.

  • Improves respiratory health.

  • Improves flexibility in the spine. 

  • Enhances overall organ functions. 

  • Stretches and strengthens the whole body.

  • Reduces low back pain and strengthens the back. 

  • It can heal cervical spondylitis, spondylitis, digestive disorders, and mental conditions.


When to Avoid Performing Chakrasana?

  • Avoid if you have high blood pressure.

  • Avoid if you have serious heart problems.

  • Avoid if you are experiencing pressure around your eyes. 

  • Avoid if you’ve had a recent back, neck, or spine injury/surgery.

  • Avoid if you lack physical flexibility or mental awareness to perform the Wheel Pose.


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How to do Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

The body is curled in this stance to resemble a wheel. This pose falls within the advanced category of yoga poses, such as advanced back and chest opener yoga poses. 


It’s crucial to flex during warm-up in order to activate the entire body, and stretch post-practice to relax the whole body. The following are ways to execute the wheel pose safely. 

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Chakrasana

A deep opening of the body through the below-listed warm-up asanas is a must to perform Chakrasana safely. Also, understanding the nature of the body and the stretch of Chakrasana practice is necessary for sequencing the preparation flow of yoga poses before Chakrasana.


1. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) - Surya Namaskar’s energy flow promotes a good opening of the entire body’s muscles. The 12-step flow, combined with adequate breathing, ensures that tightness throughout the body is quickly released. 


Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)


If you’re doing yoga in the morning, opening up stiff nerves and limbs around the whole body is necessary. Perform this flow a total of 12 times while maintaining appropriate posture and breathing. 


2. Paryankasana (Couch Pose) - After Suryanamaskar, sit in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) for a few deep breaths and relax your breathing. When you’re ready, place both elbows on the floor behind you, dropping your back backward. 


Paryankasana (Couch Pose)


With a long inhale, lower your neck and shoulders to the floor, then exhale completely to rest the top of your head on the floor. 


Place both elbows close to your head and raise your upper and middle back off the floor for a deeper lower backstretch. This stretch helps loosen tightness in the shoulders and mid-back, making it a good warm-up for Chakrasana.


3. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) - This pose also works the entire back. Stay supine and bring your feet close to your back, knees bent in this position. First, spread your arms out to the sides of your body, and as you lift the glutes, clasp both your palms below the mid-back. 


Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)


Be sure to raise your lower and upper back high up with a deep inhalation, keeping your thighs parallel to the floor. Hold the bridge pose for as long as you feel comfortable and strong. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Chakrasana

When you’re ready for the ultimate advanced backbend, try wheel pose by following the steps below: 


Step 1- Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the mat, and your arms relaxed at your sides. 


Step 2- Bring your feet as close to your buttocks as possible, but make sure that both feet are slightly apart from each other and not touching. 


Step 3- Bend your elbows and place your hands under your shoulders, pointing your fingers in the direction of your feet. Make sure you have also aligned your wrists with your ears. 


Step 4- Press down through your hands and feet, lift your hips off the mat, and keep your head flat on the mat. (Reposition your hands with a wide stance if required.)


Step 5- Press down through your legs and arms, lifting your head off the mat. Lift your chest up and back, straightening your arms and legs as much as possible, but try not to lock your joints. 


Step 6- Align your feet with your palms. Keep your core tight and hold the position here with small but continuous breaths. 


Inhalation: Inhale deeply as you lift your butt, arms, and shoulder off the mat. 


Exhalation: When you up in the wheel pose, exhale slowly and breath in twice the inhale. This will help you hold the pose longer. 


Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the wheel pose for 20-60 seconds. 


Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the wheel pose for 1 to 3 minutes. 


Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

It’s crucial to avoid these common mistakes to avoid injury and maintain proper technique during the upwards-bow pose practice: 


  • Practice with a teacher: It’s challenging to see yourself and know whether your body’s balance and alignment are correct. A yoga teacher will help guide you through, and help you avoid unnecessary injuries. 


  • Never overstretch: Chakrasana is a backbend pose, and many people feel relaxed around the lower back after this stretch. However, it’s not advised to overstretch in this pose for long durations, because overstretching can force unnecessary strain on the joints and ligaments, causing unnecessary pain in the joints. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Chakrasana 

The spine is stretched to its fullest length in Chakrasana. So, here are some of the soothing relaxing positions that can be done immediately after wheel pose practice.


1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): After releasing the wheel pose, place your feet into Namaste formation and keep both arms stretched on the sides. 


Work on breathing steadily while keeping your entire back near the floor, and relax the spine by feeling it stretch and contract with each breath. 


This type of breathing and body awareness causes the spine to relax more quickly and gives the muscles around the spine the power they need for this pose.


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Image Credits: yogaclicks.com


2. Ardha Halasana (Half Plow Pose): The blood flow to the thighs and calf is critical right after Chakrasana is released; so it’s good to practice half plow pose immediately after Wheel Pose. 


Raise both legs to 90 degrees with one deep exhalation and hold for a few breaths. Make sure your legs aren’t overextended any further than they need to be, and that your spine is comfortable while in this position. 


Ardha Halasana (Half Plow Pose)

Image Credits: 101yogastudio.com


3. Apanasana (Knees to Chest Pose): While practicing any heart-opening stance like Wheel or Bow Pose, the natural impulse is to fold the body entirely forward. But moving back and forth between the two extremes might produce physical strain. Knees-to-chest is a suitable counterpose because it softly stretches and neutralizes the whole spine. 


Apanasana (Knees to Chest Pose)

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Chakrasana Modifications and Props

Performing modifications can relieve some of the excess tension while also allowing you to build strength in the core. Try one of these modified wheel poses if you have tight shoulders or lower back pain.


Here are a few tips on how to modify your wheel pose:


  • The wall assisting arms and shoulders. Stand close to the wall and inhale deeply, bend the upper body backwards as much as possible. After reaching your limit, keep the chest and arms close to the wall and hold the pose here.


This introductory upper-body stretch with wall assistance should help you gradually build confidence.


Chakrasana Modifications and Props

Image Credits: doyou.com


  • Use a gym ball. A gym ball can also be used to achieve an accurate posture. However, the gym ball must be placed on a hard surface rather than a slippery floor–to avoid the ball from moving.


Chakrasana Modifications and Props

Image Credits: new.yogapractice.com


  • Start with the half-wheel pose. Before attempting Purna Chakrasana, begin with Ardha Chakrasana (Half Wheel Pose). 


Here, you can arch backward with your arms stretched overhead or placed on the low back, pushing your chest towards the sky and dropping your head backwards. 


Start with this practice and move on to Purna Chakrasana once you’ve gained trust in your spine’s movement.


Chakrasana Modifications and Props


  • Ask for help. A yoga teacher can help you bring your arms behind your shoulders, and support your arms and core as you rise from the mat.


Chakrasana Modifications and Props

Chakrasana Variations to Consider

No matter your degree of ability, yoga position variations can help you grow and gain more confidence in your practice. Here are a few variations of the Upwards Bow Pose to consider:


1. Two-legged Inverted Staff Pose: Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose or Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana is a deep, heart-opening advanced-level backbend that requires a lot of patience and self-awareness. Whether you’re flexible or stiff, it’s beneficial to perform this pose for a deeper opening of the lower back and chest muscles. 

Two-legged Inverted Staff Pose


2. Bridge Pose On Head: With the legs stretched, heels together, and feet apart, Bridge Pose On Head or Sirsa Setu Bandhasana is an advanced inverted yoga pose of Greevasana and is also known as half-wheel pose. This pose is part of the Ashtanga Primary Series and is also used in Iyengar Yoga.


Bridge Pose On Head


3. Inverted Bow Pose Aerial Yoga Pose: Gravity helps the back leg relax and the spine curve naturally when using aerial silk or hammock. You’ll stop fighting gravity and instead rely on the hammock’s support to assist you as you extend. Inverted Dhanurasana Aerial can be utilized in flow yoga sequences to improve energy levels in the body.


Inverted Bow Pose Aerial Yoga Pose

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Level-Up Poses After Chakrasana for Advanced Yogis

Chakrasana (Wheel Stance) is a backbend technique and an advanced-level yoga pose. Before moving forwards with some deeper back bending postures, be sure to work thoroughly on the Wheel Pose practice first. 


Next, after gaining confidence in the wheel pose and holding it without shake and discomfort, you can move forward in your practice with the following successor poses: 


Level-Up Pose 1 - Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (Single-Legged Reverse Bow Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two-legged Inverted Staff Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Dandayamana Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pose)



Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (Single-Legged Reverse Bow Pose)

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana


 Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two-legged Inverted Staff Pose)

Image Credits: karineisen.com

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana


Dandayamana Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pose)

Dandayamana Dhanurasana

Similar Backbend Poses like Chakrasana

Take a look below, we have a list of some more backbend yoga poses for you to enhance your yoga practice further after Chakrasana: 


  1. Bitilasana (Cow Pose)

  2. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  3. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

  4. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

  5. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

What is the Chakrasana procedure?

Can beginners do Chakrasana poses?

What is Ardha Chakrasana?

Does Chakrasana reduce belly fat?

What is the benefit of Kati Chakrasana?

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Articles about Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
Ratings & Reviews
Desiree
Desiree
Great!

Tue, Nov 15

Lidia
Lidia
Excellent

Tue, Nov 15

Sujatha
Sujatha
Excellent class

Tue, Nov 15

Carolyn
Carolyn
He's very good at reviewing each exercise and is v...Read more

Tue, Nov 15

Ula
Ula
Another great session with Annelise. Thank you!!

Wed, Nov 16

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Melissa
Excellent class as usual

Tue, Nov 15

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